Feminism or ‘fuzz’ over nothing?

I read a blog article recently, the link for which had been tweeted by a national newspaper columnist and feminist, and it got me a bit wound up.  The article was centered around a woman’s right to grow her body hair and challenging the rules of the body police.  Ok, yes I know, this might not be palatable but stick with me… now from what I can gather, the writers intention was to challenge the concept that women have to shave off their body hair to be accepted. The writer suggests that women are made to feel that it is compulsory for  to remove our body hair.

Now I am a supporter of women’s rights and think equality is important and that gender stereotypes should be challenged, I also think that the objectification of women is limiting and demeaning… but letting your chin whiskers, short and curlies, or in fact any other bodily hair grow wild does not a better feminist make.   I do not feel that I have been raised in a society where we are lined up at school and handed a box of Bic disposables in exchange for the forced surrender of our knee high socks.  I should point out that the young lady leading the charge here  (an excellent writer I must admit.. kudos to you madam) happens to be gorgeous, young and blonde, and that is not her fault.  Like it or not however, it does skew the article somewhat.  You see, it’s one thing flashing a little blonde barely visible leg fluff under the frills of your maxi dress, or to wave your baby soft armpit hair in the breeze as you hail a taxi once in a while.  It is quite another to share your hair if you are a pale pasty faced brunette genetically gifted with thick black spikes of hair that can penetrate even the thickest 60 denier tights and slice actual holes in your favourite cashmere cardie.   To prepare for this particular article, the writer confessed that she had rarely gone outdoors with her hairy legs on show and had even changed the way she dressed to accommodate her feminist mission, so I am confused. Where is the learning here?  Bravo, you’ve let your hair hang loose… oh, wait a minute, you didn’t actually hang it out and are still conforming by covering it all up…. hmmm.

But it was the final question in the article that really got my goat.  If you start shaving again, do you lose feminism?

The answer to this was essentially that the aim had been to develop a relationship of choice with shaving.  She would do it if the whim seized her, and would leave it if she felt free to be hairy.  My thoughts?  That is not a stance reserved for ‘true feminists’… that’s actually how most ordinary women see it in my experience.  It is not banner waving material at all, it is simply growing up and getting over yourself.  Sometimes it is vanity, not society that leads us to the razor, sometimes it is an utterly distressing medical condition that lets hair growth get out on control, and sometimes it is because we simply don’t enjoy being hairy.  I can’t help but feel that raising the issue as a feminist one, simply changes the social pressure rather than removing it altogether.  If you want to shave your legs, gloss your lips, slip into stockings or wear a push up bra then you should, but do it because you want to and it makes you feel good, not because societal stereotypes dictate it.  Similarly if you want to grow a beard, swap stockings for shin fuzz and go commando in your combats then good for you, do it, but not because the feminists say so.  Yes there is pressure in the media to be smooth, shiny, slim, sexy and many other S’s too, but seriously folks, I know many a woman who can happily choose to go days or even weeks without hair removal.  Most of them are too busy getting on with real life to find the time care.  Do I go around high fiving their feminist ways?  No, I’m too busy plucking my chin from under a balaclava…

To read the original article that inspired this piece in full click the link http://vagendamag.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/hair-not-musical.html


7 responses to “Feminism or ‘fuzz’ over nothing?

  1. I find this article perplexing for I was a bra-burning young woman in the 60’s and body hair was an issue then as well. My take on this is the same as yours do it if you want if not shave your choice, but oh what an ancient subject and to ask if you lose feminism if you shave? Have we not grown beyond and above this type of article in all the time since my bra burning days? Surely we have made more headway than this!
    Thank you for sharing this.

    • Precisely Len! Surely what we all strive for is freedom… be it freedom to be a woman, a man, a child, or whatever. Just freedom to be. The rest is just wallpaper, you know?! Could go on and on and on, but I won’t, this is just one little example of another way women are almost being encouraged to compete… when in fact we are our own worst competition. See one of my earlier poems ‘Girls Night’ on this… http://wp.me/p2dIML-A

  2. Fantastic post. I agree with you, there are still bigger battles to fight than hair vs. no hair. Perhaps the writer would be better off focusing her attention on many magazines’ portrayal of women ie. airbrushing and size zero models.

  3. What a lovely post to get us going!! I only lose my feminism if I choose to lose it……it’s not tied to my use of personal products. What’s next – hair dye, waxing strips, fingernail polish, perfume………. All of those things, including the decision to shave or not to shave are tied to something far more important – they are indications that I care for myself (that I love myself). Whether that’s feminine or not (and some would argue not, I’m sure) is beside the point, as is whether I would allow someone else (especially a cute blonde reporter to decide for me what I am and what I’m not)………. 😉 But what a lovely thing to debate……. hehehehehehehe ~ Bobbie

    • Perfect comment Bobbie, you got it totally! Sometimes I only feel human again once I have had a nice bubbly bath, pampered and preened myself, and taken care of me for a change. Hoorah! Thought I was being a bit uneducated and ill informed taking on this topic and that feminists everywhere might revolt against me, but I decided to give it a go anyway xxx

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